Rick Kushman is a New York Times bestselling author, a former columnist for The Sacramento Bee, and a regular contributor to Capital Public Radio. His writing has appeared in national publications ranging from Time Magazine to Sommelier Journal to Daily Variety. He is also the creator and co-host of the radio show “Bottle Talk with Rick and Paul.” Reach Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chefs continue to be among the hottest stars in Sacramento, and American, culture. That’s thanks to the Food Network’s image-building power, our exploding love of food and all things culinary, and a new societal reverence for hands-on authenticity. The consensus is that chefs with some level of recognition can help draw customers — most of the time. But restaurateurs and chefs say the cultural pizzazz around chefs can be a double-edged sword, and it’s a force they need to use wisely.
It’s no news flash that chefs, just like everyone, can help construct reputations and build followings through social media. But many Sacramento chefs say that, given the competition in the restaurant business, and the number of bloggers, tweeters and Yelpers commenting on food, chefs can’t afford not to have a notable online presence.
Last summer, Magpie Café in midtown Sacramento added a line on their customers’ checks. It gave them the option to tip the cooks separately from the servers. It gave diners what they universally say they want: more control.
If there is any advice businesses can glean from the often surprising research and real life stories about our oddly emotional connection to tipping, it’s this: Don’t mess if you don’t have to.
At Cask & Barrel in north Sacramento, there are no entrees. The restaurant has a small kitchen staff and high-end food at low prices. Chef Gabriel Glasier and his pastry chef, business partner and fiancée, Kristel Flores, are bringing something different to a corner of Del Paso Boulevard that’s proved to be enigmatic, to say the least, for two decades.
Give David Hardie credit. The owner of the building and restaurant that was named Enotria for two decades went “all in,” as he says, on trying to make that spot exciting and a draw to diners.
This strip between 14th and 15th street not long ago was a dead zone. Now it’s filled with bars and restaurants. Still, many worry that Sacramento could be roaring into a restaurant glut that could put pressure on current restaurants and those arriving soon.
Around the Sacramento region, the Mulvaney’s attitude is rare. So many other chefs and owners are taking up those offers or have their own plans to expand. 2015 is proving to be a banner year for restaurant expansions, and as Sacramento’s new Golden 1 Arena rises, 2016 will surely continue the trend. Here’s just a partial lineup of what’s shaking down around the region: